PUDUCHERRY: The leader of the Sri Lankan National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), despite voicing disappointment on the slow progress during the Indo-Sri Lankan fishermen’s talks, expressed optimism that the next round of talks (the fourth) between the two groups will go well.
Herman Kumara said three rounds of talks have taken place between the representatives of fishermen of the two countries and there was deadlock in the third round of talks because of Indian fishermen insisting they be allowed to fish for 83 days in Sri Lankan waters. Sri Lankan representatives opposed this as they felt it would dwindle resources in their territory and preferred the number days to be further reduced.
Kumara pointed out that in Rameswaram alone there were 1,900 boats and if these boats fish in Sri Lankan waters with their modern gadgets, then fishermen of the Island Nation would be adversely affected.
He hoped that the fourth round of talks between the fishermen representatives of the countries will evolve positive results and this should be followed by diplomatic efforts between both the countries for a permanent solution to the issues.
National Fish workers Forum chairperson M Illango also sounded similar optimism in the fourth round of talks, which are expected to take place soon.
Asked about the Tsunami rehabilitation programmes in Sri Lanka, Herman Kumara said fisher folk affected by the Tsunami on December 26, 2004 were unhappy with the rehabilitation work. He charged that the coastal fishermen were being replaced in the name of security and the coastal lands are being utilised for tourism purposes. The ‘megastyle’ development of infrastructure along the coastal areas including the 15 tourism zones, highways will not help traditional fishermen.
Kumara favoured the setting up of a mechanism to implement decisions evolved during the talks.